Before Midnight DVD Review

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Before Midnight is the 3rd film in the most unlikely film franchise ever made. It started with the tiny budget Before Sunrise and followed 9 years later with Before Sunset. Neither film were smash hits but were critically acclaimed universally. Before Sunset even got an Oscar nomination for screenplay. It’s credited as directed by Richard Linklater but it’s more of collaboration between the director and it’s leads Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, who are credited as screenwriters on the 2 sequels.

It all started with Before Sunrise, which came out in 1995 that concerns a brief encounter between Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) in Vienne in their early 20s. They have a night together after meeting on a train and they wander aimlessly in Vienne and fall in love. They realise they will probably never see each other again and decide not to swap contact details.

The saga continued in Before Sunset, Jesse has written a book about their night together and it’s a bestseller. He Is on European book signing/reading tour and is in Paris and Céline pops by to say hi to an old friend. Jesse has a kid and is married but his love with Céline is rekindled and he famously misses his plane in the last scene.

Before Midnight is set 9 years after the events of the last film. Jesse and Céline have married and parented twin girls. Jesse’s son from his previous relationship is staying with them for summer in Greece but he has to fly home to Chicago to stay with his mother. Jesse has continued writing to great success but Céline is at a crossroads about her career and is debating to work for the French Government. The two of them go to dinner with some writer friends and they buy them a hotel for a night so they can have a night together. Jesse and Céline arrive at the hotel but tensions mount between the two and breaks into an argument.

The Before trilogy is one of the very few honest depictions of a romantic relationships on films. They are so often sentimental and unrealistic. The 1st 2 films are so hopelessly romantic so in the 3rd film they decide to see how is it to really live with the personal you are madly in love with. It’s perfectly acted by the two leads you buy into these characters, you care for about them and it’s works it’s strange magic over you.

Linklater has worked in all genres from teen comedies, scif-fi, dark comedy, more experimental works, crime etc. The one thing that is really his forte is the films within one day, which he has done 8 times now. Almost all of these films are his best films. It’s just a time frame that suits his aesthetic of films about people wandering and talking aimlessly about art, philosophy, films etc.

Overall Before Midnight is by the far the best cinematic romance you will see all year and the most real. It helps that Linkatler, Hawke and Delpy are such good friends for it not seemed forced which it could so much. I hope there will a 4th film in the series cause the ending definitely leaves that possibility. It’s about 100 minutes and you will hard pressed to find a more enjoyable 100 minutes of cinema this year.


Ian Schultz

Release Date:
28th October 2013 (UK)
Sony Picture Classics (UK)
Richard Linklater
Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick
Buy Before Midnight:DVD [Amazon]